Hortonville High stages ‘Almost, Maine’ this week
Play runs Feb. 21-23
By Scott Bellile
Love is in the air in a remote, wintry, not-quite-a-town in Hortonville High School’s production of the romantic comedy “Almost, Maine.”
HHS will stage John Cariani’s 2004 play from Thursday, Feb. 21 through Saturday, Feb. 23. Shows are at 7 p.m. each night, plus a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Tickets cost $9 each.
The play’s setting is named “Almost” in acknowledgment that the rural municipality is almost a town but has not attained that legal status.
The play’s director, Joseph Engels, describes Almost as “very small” and “way up north.”
“Even though it’s Almost, Maine, I think the audience will really like it because I think it’s so close to what northern Wisconsin is like,” Engels said. “I lived in Rhinelander for a couple years. A lot of it reminds me so much of what I’ve seen there in the small town, small community.”
“Almost, Maine” is comprised of nine short plays, which all take place throughout the community between 8:50 and 9 p.m. during a Northern Lights display.
The segments explore love as well as loss in situations that contain mythical and surreal elements.
“Each vignette has a twist to it, almost ‘Twilight Zone’-ish twist to it, that I think the audience will find really interesting,” Engels said.
Bailey Peikert, HHS senior and the play’s stage manager, said the play has a scene for everyone, no matter what stage of a relationship they are in, or if they are in one at all.
“Everybody’s been in love to some extent,” Peikert said. It’s super [relatable].”
“Love isn’t what you always expect it to be. It’s not always a happy ending,” added HHS senior Emma Beckman. She plays a “very tomboyish girl” named Rhonda who fails to catch on to her snowmobiling partner Dave’s hints of romantic interest.
HHS senior Michaela Woodward plays a longtime wife named Marcy who fails to communicate with her husband Phil during an ice skating outing. Woodward said the play takes audiences through “an array of emotions,” but ultimately it is fun.
Some of the play’s messages, the seniors said, include love should not hurt, confess feelings for another person, love and friendship are similar, embrace “happy accidents,” and do not use someone when it is convenient for you.
In making his directorial debut at HHS, Engels said he chose “Almost, Maine” because the play’s format – nine vignettes starring, at most, three different students in every scene – allows him to get to know everyone on an individual basis.
“They are the star of their scene, basically, which is kind of fun with the straight play,” Engels said of his actors, in contrast to the more ensemble-focused musical format.